W e can all agree that on a national level, 2017 was a Dumpster fire of a year. But one silver lining is the flood of protest art that has arisen, and that's at the root of Ma'at Production Association of Afrikan Centered Theatre's (MPAACT) new project 100 Acts of Resistance, a series of performances that explores how different artists define resistance.
"The focus is based around [the artists'] experiences of oppressions, their need to make things more fair and accessible," says Carla Stillwell, artistic director of MPAACT, which features new work by artists of the African diaspora. "We can't sit silently and not speak about and articulate all of the ways in which we need to be better."
The project features some diverse fare, from Kianna Louisor's 20-Somethings, which uses dance and poetry to examine the ways young people resist oppression, to The Legendary Nana Yaa Asantewaa and the War of the Golden Stool or They Is African Royalty Living off Fuckin Wilson, a play by Osiris Khepera about an African queen battling British invaders.
Stillwell says she hopes audiences will appreciate the diversity of voices onstage, which are all part of what she calls a "colorful resistance."
"We do these types of projects to start conversations, so that people can not only speak but listen," Stillwell says. "Making America great is not shutting down the press, it's not closing off the borders. It's actually having a full conversation with everyone involved and all voices and perspectives."
Lynsey Ann Moxie's Music and Lamentations: The Moxie Movement kicks off the project on February 2. For Moxie, the idea of resistance involves pushing back against stereotypes and celebrating the complexity of black women and her own identity. She rejects both the "angry black woman" trope, as well as the unfair expectation that black women must always be "magic."
"We're still humans, we're still vulnerable. We still love, we still feel," Moxie says. "Don't put me in a box. Don't tell me what I am. I am going to reclaim what that is."
Moxie's performance will include spoken word and poetry as well as movement, video, and music. She believes her artistry is possible thanks to the works of women before her, like Toni Morrison and Nina Simone.
"When I think about all these women that inspire my words and movement, I know they helped me find my word," Moxie says. "I'm resisting the idea that we have to pick one, that we have to compare one to the other. Resistance, a movement, is not something that one person can do alone, it has to be a community of people." v